Wireless Industry Preps for Hurricane Florence

The wireless industry has been preparing for the expected landfall of Hurricane Florence from South Carolina to Virginia today. Inside Towers will be tracking the effect of the storm on towers. If you have any photos of tower storm damage or restoration efforts, please email us.

Carriers like Sprint staged recovery gear such as fuel and generators, SatCOLTs (satellite cell sites on light truck) and VSATs (portable satellite systems) inside and outside the projected impacted areas to enable rapid deployment and minimize any service disruptions. Sprint has recovery teams on stand-by to ensure personnel are available after Florence makes landfall. More than 1,000 Sprint personnel are ready to jump into action, alongside the carrier’s emergency response team.

In addition to staging emergency response equipment for quick deployment after the storm, AT&T personnel are topping off fuel generators and testing high-capacity backup batteries at cell sites, and protecting physical facilities against flooding with sandbags. The carrier’s National Disaster Recovery program includes “hundreds” of trailers nationwide that can be quickly deployed to support customers and first responders.  

Some of that gear may include: Cell on Wheels (COWs) and Cell on Light Trucks (COLTs), drones, and a Flying Cell on Wings (Flying COWs). AT&T can also deploy base camps with sleeping tents, bathrooms, kitchen, laundry facilities, on-site nurse and meals ready to eat (MREs). These AT&T North Carolina stores closed yesterday.

Verizon is fine-tuning its storm prep and local network teams are prepared to travel to the hardest hit areas. Network enhancements in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and across the Southeast Coast since last year’s storm season include, expanding and densifying Verizon’s 4G LTE network and adding capacity to hundreds of cell sites. In addition, Verizon has a number of “switch” network processing centers across the southeast. “With hardened shells, these facilities also feature large-scale on-site power generation, various redundant operations and technologies, and other back-up systems to ensure the company’s network remains reliable,” the carrier says in a press release.

Verizon says it’s lifted all speed caps for first responders in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The Verizon Response Team has begun providing items like mobile hotspots and phones to public safety and other support teams to make sure they can stay connected, as well pre-staging charging stations and disaster response trailers for deployment where the need will be greatest.

T-Mobile warns customers, Hurricane Florence is expected to cause widespread tree damage, power outages and flooding — all of which can contribute to network outages. Engineering and rapid response teams are positioned to quickly activate emergency equipment such as fuel trucks, mobile COWs and back-up power solutions, including portable generators, as soon as the storm begins to impact the area. Its retail locations will remain open as long as it’s safe. They will have water, mobile generators, device charging stations, car and wall chargers and other supplies available.

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September 12, 2018

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